STORIES OF PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION

Raluca Handoca

This school year I made a new friend. He is a Nigerian student in Cluj-Napoca. I met him at the end of November and he told me that I am his first Romanian friend outside school, which got me thinking how come in almost 2 months since the school started he did not make a Romanian friend. I asked him about this and his answer is that people only talk to him if they curse or say something offensive, and if they want to find out something about being a black person.

One thing that he told me is that there were Romanian people that wanted to touch his hair because it is different than any regular Romanian person has. He was stopped on the street for that, or while he was at parties in club, and one time while waiting in line at a fast food window. He said that it makes him feel stressed when someone wants to touch his hair and this makes him shave or wear a hat of a hood on. He said that people also stare at him when he wears a hood. He told me that he realizes that his full lips and dark skin make him different than most of us and our culture but it still can be overwhelming and hurtful.

Another thing that happened to him was a woman coming to him and telling him how she wants to have a” chocolate baby” and they should have sex. Is this the way it works? She was not joking and my friend felt a little on the verge of being abused.

What was interesting for me to see is how he relates to the Gypsy community. He always says that he talks to beggars and people belonging to the ethnical group. He comes from a wealthy family from Nigeria and in Romania his so called friends are asking people for money in the street. He says that their energy is similar to what he has in Nigeria.

Apparently even in a city like Cluj-Napoca where thousands of students coming from different parts of Romania and other countries live we have discrimination. Even small things like wanting to touch someone’s hair can be offensive for the other person. What we should do is try to get to know more about their culture and lifestyle before deciding to do something that can harm the other person. Racism is a concept that I think that will stick to people for more time. Although I believe that we should do everything possible to stop it, it will not be stopped until the moment when people will stop teaching their children that the color of our skin makes us different.

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